“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”: British and NATO forces ‘turning a corner’ in Afghanistan in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007 etc
by Ian Sinclair
16 May 2011
“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” – Milan Kundera
2011– ‘In his office on the first floor of Isaf’s heavily fortified headquarters in Kabul, [General James] Bucknall [a British Coldstream Guards officer who is second in command of the International Security and Assistance Force], a veteran of Iraq, Northern Ireland and the Balkans, concedes that this is “the most complex and demanding theatre I have ever worked in. But he sets out why he thinks a corner has now been turned, nodding to the surge in American troop numbers that has made it possible. We have halted the insurgents’ momentum. And in some areas where we have really applied resources we have regained the initiative. We have successfully removed a number of safe havens in Afghanistan, some of which the insurgents have held for a long time, particularly around Kandahar. We have also removed substantial munitions, far greater than we ever have before.’ (Nick Hopkins, ‘Afghanistan: Advances made, but country stands at perilous crossroads’, Guardian, 11 May 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/10/afghanistan-crossroads-taliban-military).
2010– ‘Nick Clegg said Nato’s military campaign in Afghanistan was “turning the corner” today as he made a surprise visit to the troubled country.’ (‘Afghan campaign turning the corner, says Nick Clegg, as Oxfam withdraws from remote area’, Guardian, 31 August 2010, http://m.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/31/afghan-campaign-corner-nick-clegg?cat=world&type=article)
2009– ‘There is this absurd notion that you can’t win a counter-insurgency. I have studied the last 12 British counter-insurgencies, since 1900, and we did manage to achieve a peace of some sort in every one of them, most recently Northern Ireland. We’ve always had this awful period of getting things very badly wrong before we seem to turn the corner, and I think that’s what is happening now. It would be crazy to give up now.’ – Colonel David Benest, retired Parachute Regiment officer, who served as a British counter-insurgency adviser in Kabul (‘Britain’s future role in Afghanistan: Six experts give their view’, 16 November 2009, Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/16/afghanistan-uk-policy-view-experts)
2007– ‘Yet despite the presence of thousands of Taliban fighters, and some tough fighting still ahead, British military commanders in Afghanistan say they believe they have turned a significant corner. In recent months they have succeeded in pushing the Taliban back and keeping them out of a few strategic areas. At the same time, they say, popular support for the insurgents is eroding’ (Carlotta Gall, ‘British forces beat back Taliban’, New York Times, 5 August 2007, http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2007-08-05/news/0708040185_1_helmand-taliban-nato-forces)